GM has had a hard time mastering the art of the compact car. It’s almost as if the legacy of the big American family sedan simply won’t let the company achieve success in this aspect of the marketplace. With the General’s latest effort however, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, the formula seems finally to have been found. Pleasing to look at and pleasant to drive, the Chevrolet Cruze ushers in a new era of compact cars from America’s largest automobile manufacturer.
Interestingly, the Cruze brings to bear many traditional American automotive values despite its tidy size. The newest Chevy rides smooth, is quiet, and will comfortably tour a family of four––assuming the people in the back seat or either short, or pre-teens. The Cruze also offers a nice variety of comfort and convenience features, including state-of-the-art telematics like an iPhone app for monitoring vital functions.
For many people the intrique of a new car is all about initial attraction and here the Cruze has a decided advantage. With its broad shoulders, arching greenhouse, and taut, crisp lines Cruze looks planted solidly on the road, while exuding an air of confidence no previous GM compact has ever approached. The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good-looking car.
Two engines are offered at launch, a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder delivering 136 horsepower and 123 ft-lbs of torque and a 1.4-liter turbo pressure-cooking 138 horsepower and 148 ft-lbs of torque. As is typical for a turbocharged engine, maximum torque is available from 1,850 all the way up to 4,900 rpm. This works well for getting the Cruze to step smartly––if not aggressively––off the line and away from traffic signals. Six speed transmissions, in your choice of manual or automatic, route engine output to the front wheels.
Inside, the interior benefits from eye pleasing shapes, an attractive two-tone color scheme and perfect placement of secondary controls. Buttons on the steering wheel control audio and phone calls in addition to calling up trip and diagnostic information. Seating is comfortable though a bit more thigh support would be useful for taller occupants. It all fits together very nicely and goes a long way toward banishing memories of substandard accommodations in Chevrolet products.
And so does the way the Cruze goes down the road. Exceptionally quiet for a car in its class, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze offers a contemplative environment to go along with its smooth ride, deft acceleration and competent road manners. The Chevrolet offers excellent stability at speed on the highway and drives with a reassuring heft. It is also perfectly suited for life in the city. The Cruze is remarkably maneuverable, has more than adequate storage and cargo capability, offers 10 airbags as standard equipment for safety, and the Eco model is reputed to return 40 miles per gallon.
Granted, the Cruze has a tough market to crack, going up against two of the best-selling cars in the world. But the Cruze is, in many ways, an outstanding competitor. The Chevrolet does an admirable job of co-opting the best qualities of both Corolla and Civic, while surpassing them with equipment plus a look and a character that is attractively unique. With the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze you get terrific fuel economy, great looks, a remarkably generous level of standard content, competent road manners, and a substantive appearance, all starting at $16,995.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze
Base Price: $16,995
Engine(s): 136 horsepower/123 ft-lbs torque 1.8-liter four-cylinder
138 horsepower/148 ft-lbs torque turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmission(s): Six-speed automatic/six-speed manual
Drivetrain: Front engine/front-wheel drive